North Port Fire participates in hurricane tactical drill

WWSB ABC7 News at 6pm
Published: Jun. 5, 2023 at 4:42 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 5, 2023 at 6:53 PM EDT
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NORTH PORT, Fla. (WWSB) - North Port Fire Rescue, along with other Suncoast agencies, participated in a Tactical First In Team Drill. The drill is part of their hurricane response preparations.

Emergency Manager for the City of North Port, Michael Ryan, said a big part of going into this season involves lessons learned from Hurricane Ian, including flooding.

“They were going in on airboats like crazy to be able to pull people out and in that area, there was anywhere from six to ten feet of water in front of some of those homes,” says Justin Willis, a North Port resident.

Ryan agreed with Willis and emphasized the flooding was the biggest lesson learned with new implementations this year to accommodate that.

“It presented so many different situations where water was the main issue not necessarily debris,” says Ryan.

Station 81 and other agencies scrubbed into a real-life experience of what they will face following a hurricane. Battalion Chief Raymond Coyle says it was a city block with debris, flipped cars, down wires and a structural collapse. Crews assessed damages and navigated them safely. Training Coyle explained is critical.

“It’s paramount. They are the first ones out there engaging in the situation. Sending back what needs they have and providing care along the way. They are the first in team,” says Coyle.

Willis emphasized while the fire department and police department may be better prepared now, it still comes down to the residents. He explained they need to be prepared and listen.

“Are we every really prepared for what happened? That’s the part that people have to take into consideration. Part of preparing is being ready for whatever may come and being willing to evacuate whenever it’s necessary. If they say your zone is in an evacuation area, know what zone you are in and pay attention to it. When they say go, go this time,” says Willis.

Ryan said this year they will be getting more resources to help with flooding this year.